Beverly, MA – Bergmeyer Associates has recently completed the design and construction documents for a modular student residence hall at Endicott College in Beverly. In order to meet the goal of designing and building this new 300-bed facility in only 14 months, Endicott College, Bergmeyer and its design-build partner, Windover Construction, made a collective decision to use prefabricated modular housing units for 85% of the building’s construction. Unfamiliar territory for most in the building industry, the design-build team was eager to be a part of this innovative project. Prefabricated modular construction, or “prefab,” was popularized in the 1950s to meet the housing needs of the growing Baby Boom generation. Because of its history as a method of mass-producing homes, prefab had become associated with inexpensive and poor-quality construction. Today, however, designers and construction firms are relying on this method to increase the quality of the craftsmanship and reduce the amount of time spent on-site doing traditional construction.
In addition, advances in building information modeling technology now allow architects to manage the design process in a highly efficient manner. This new student residence hall for upper classmen will be the first modular housing project on the Endicott campus. The modular fabricators selected by the team are based in Pennsylvania and are the largest family-owned off-site built modular home manufacturer in the country. Constructed with the same materials used in traditional fabrication, the prefab units will be built off-site in a highly controlled environment and protected from weather-related damage while allowing the completed residential building to meet stringent building code requirements for new construction. Bergmeyer embraced and leveraged the constraints of modular construction, producing a contemporary-looking scheme without sacrificing quality. Each apartment-style unit is designed for four or six beds in a combination of single and double bedrooms. For the exterior cladding, a randomized pattern of glazed openings and panels blends the seams of the modules, enriching the perception of the building’s construction. Unique spaces such as entry lobbies and corner study lounges will be traditionally constructed, connecting the modular units into a unified exterior massing. As prefabricated units must be transported from the production facility to the site, Federal Highway Administration regulations for size and loads presented a major design constraint. To meet this constraint, all the modules were designed to be 12-foot 0-inch wide: right-sized for transportation and appropriate for the housing program. Highway height restrictions also required structure and mechanical systems to be meticulously studied in order to minimize the units’ overall dimensions. The project is just one of a handful of the latest improvements to the campus that has been shepherded by college president Dr. Richard E. Wylie. In total, the building houses 295 beds, reaching Endicott College’s expanded housing goal while incorporating amenities like student lounges, collaborative study rooms, fitness room, and in-unit laundry. The project is under construction with foundations and steel well under way in preparation for the arrival of the first modular pieces in late March. The completion of the new residences is for August for opening at the start of Endicott’s fall semester.